Re-signing Vucevic already looks like horrible call by Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers
Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

With a whopping nine players from last year's hitting free agency last summer, the Chicago Bulls were forced to make several tough decisions regarding who they could afford to keep around. The Bulls inked Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu to extremely team-friendly deals and also convinced Andre Drummond to accept his player option, each of these moves already looking great in retrospect.

The same could not be said for perhaps Chicago's most controversial signing of the offseason, however, as Nikola Vucevic has not lived up the expectations of his new contract thus far. Inking a three-year, $60 million extension, the Bulls had hoped Vucevic could continue being an important piece for this team at the center position.

Re-signing Vucevic when the Bulls were clearly in need of a rebuild — or at the very least, a retool — frustrated a great many fans this summer. Still, when compared to the deals other players signed in free agency, Nikola's contract didn't look all that bad if he could he continue playing at the level he did in 2022-23.

As it turns out, it seems he could not continue playing at the same level after all. Vucevic's efficiency stats have fallen off a cliff this season. Although he's averaging nearly the same points, rebounds, and assists as one year ago, his field goal percentage has plummeted five percentage points while his already mediocre three-point percentage has dropped a tremendous 7.5% all the way down to 27.5%.

Vucevic currently holds the worst true shooting percentage of his career since his rookie season. Already 33 years old and a dozen years into his NBA career, we have very little reason to believe he's going to be making any significant improvements any time soon.

The Bulls are going to regret the Nikola Vucevic extension for years to come.

I held my reservations about the decision to re-sign Vucevic since the summer, but the fact that this was a bad call couldn't be any more apparent than last night's game against the Cavaliers. Right when the Bulls could use a big game from the former All-Star, Vucevic responded by posting just 9 points on an embarrassingly poor 4-for-16 shooting and recording the worst plus/minus of any player on either team.

Even the greatest players have off nights, so I'm willin to give him the benefit of the doubt after a singular poor performance. But the issue here is that there's nothing singulr about last night's outing at all. This game was indicative of a very concerning declining trend in his play. Not only is Vucevic a horrendous defender, but his offense has become increasingly unreliable as well.

Perhaps most frustrating of all, Vucevic had the chance to redeem himself in the waning moments of last night's game. Down 103-14 with 17 seconds remaining on the clock, Vucevic dropped a pass from Coby White in a pick and roll mismatch which would have given the Bulls the lead. Instead, Chicago was forced to foul from there on out and the Cavaliers safely put the game away.

Instead, the Bulls dropped a game they really needed after failing to beat another Eastern Conference rival in Orlando earlier this week. Chicago falls to 26-29 and doesn't look any closer to returning to contention than they've been over the last two years.

To top it all off, right when the Bulls were going to be finally freed from the financial burden of Lonzo Ball's contract, it seems this new Vucevic contract is going to pull Chicago down for years to come. While other teams enjoy success with former Bulls centers Daniel Gafford and Wendell Carter, Chicago is going to be stuck paying a 35-year-old traffic cone $20 million per year.

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